May 17, 2021

Making Friends with the Enemy: Writer’s Block.

 

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Writing has always been a release for me.

It has helped me in both joyful and tumultuous times. It has given me perspective on something in the past, but it has also allowed me to work out issues with where I was headed. It has helped in my friendships, romantic relationships, and at work; writing has given me the answers and clarity I needed. Now, though, writing is the problem.

Writer’s block has stopped me from writing numerous articles. I have title after title on my phone’s notepad, but they sit there, and sadly, here I am. Writer’s block is like a bad breakup. The issue won’t go away. I cannot ignore it; I cannot make friends with it because I hate it too much while I am in it. It stops me dead in my tracks, and all my topics lay dead on my phone.

I seem to have put up this block myself. I am judging myself harshly. I am not good enough to write. I am not skilled enough to write. I have written all I can, and I am done being a writer, now what? This barricade, I understand, is made by myself. I put up my hands in frustration. I wring my hands repeatedly and say I am done with writing for good! Perhaps, I shall try painting, walking, or hiking? Perhaps I am a phony. I am a fake-it-till-you-make-it writer with nothing of substance to say.

I have heard we are to make friends with our writer’s block, but who wants to make friends with someone or thing you hate? The fear of never writing anything good again is palpable. I sit in the dark, I feel my blood pulsing through my body, and yet, nothing comes out. The words are gone. I wanted to write about self-compassion in this time of Covid. I thought about my fractured family and about writing about that. Nothing seems good enough of a topic to start.

Starting is the problem, though, isn’t it? The beginning. The delving into a part of myself or yourself that is scary to share. Writer’s block has allowed a small window of opportunity to avoid dealing with the pain of whatever topic I would write about. Truly great writing is nothing if not a vulnerability on the page. It is when we tell our truest story that people connect. Writer’s block stops that in our tracks.

Bring a writer without words is debilitating. It cripples us, so we crawl along, scraping at the ground as we try and come up with something tangible to share. That writer’s block is hard to climb over when you are scraping along the ground. It seems impossible to tackle. Maybe we need to stop seeing it as something to tackle. Maybe we need to see it as someone to sit with till it teaches us what we need to learn.

I have had writer’s block a few times (okay, more than a few times) when I wanted to write about a topic and was just frozen in fear of sharing. I was dealing with writer’s block and at a loss for words. I felt like I was done sharing my words with everyone else. I was dried up and shriveled and needed to be thrown out. I know I am not alone in this thinking, and at this point, I am okay with it if I am the only one. I refuse to listen to the wise writers who tell me to make friends with my writer’s block. Who wants to be friends with the enemy?

We do. If we do not sit with it, understand why we are blocked, and how to move through, not over it, we will continue to be blocked. I have been told to write about the problem in the writer’s course I am finishing up. I have thought that was a crock. I have been told that for years—honestly in different writing groups I have been in. While I know it is sage advice, I have bucked up at the idea. I like to keep the enemy at bay. I do not want to invite him in for tea.

So here I sit, typing this out. I have typed out a whole article on writer’s block by writing out the problem. I have made friends with it and now am unblocked with my words. I have shared my struggles. I have opened up about writer’s block and my life, and you know what? Perhaps the people who said write about the problem were right? And here I sit, humbled by them helping me when I bucked up about it being hogwash. Please accept my apologies to those I said hogwash to.

When someone tells you to write about the problem, do it. When they say make friends with writer’s block, well, just do it. It will save you time from arguing and fighting against it. Your words will flow again, and your story will be heard.

Be vulnerable. Be brave. Make friends with the enemy.

~

 

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